FOXBORO – For the first time since “Baby Got Back” was a No. 1 for Sir Mix-A-Lot, there’s a quarterback competition in Foxboro. Swear to God. Google it.
On Tuesday, second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham had three throws that had him saying, “Baby, I’d like to have THAT ONE back!”
Am I happy to be back in the field and out of my COVID Cocoon? Yes. Let’s rein it in a little.
Stidham was thrice-picked, yes. And there will be unnecessary handwringing, cluck-clucking, chortling and panic-button smashing at the sheer weight of those numbers.
The fine print to his day? Aside from those throws, he looked really good.
(So how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?)
Between Stidham, Cam Newton and Brian Hoyer, Stidham’s got the most live and accurate arm. He throws the best ball. He’s got command at the line of scrimmage and in and out of the huddle, and he appears to the layman to be toggling nicely between taking what’s given and pushing it into spots.
He had the most well-delivered ball of the day in the second half of practice when he found a sliding Damiere Byrd near the left sideline with a timing throw that perfectly anticipated where Byrd would end up. He also closed practice with a nice throw to Mohamed Sanu down the right side. Perfectly placed.
Before his first pick which was plucked by Michael Jackson, Stidham had three straight sharp completions. The one that was taken by Stephon Gilmore was taken by Stephon Gilmore. He does that stuff. And the one taken by Dugger felt like an “I wonder if this will work…” type of downfield heave.
You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. You can’t play quarterback well until you throw a few picks. The best way to find out where there’s trouble is to go looking for it when it doesn’t really matter. Like practice.
That’s why I didn’t feel like the picks were part of an overall bad day for Stidham.
As for Newton? Nothing yet that makes you sit up and say, “Whoa!” But he was also very efficient on Tuesday even with a lot of his throws being safe choices. There were drops by Sanu and Olszewski and a deep overthrow of Byrd which – if you’re going to miss – is the place to miss.
He’s been dropped into a new situation with receivers he hasn’t thrown to (aside from Byrd) in a competitive setting. The Patriots secondary is really good and the team’s most dynamic receiver – Julian Edelman – was down on Tuesday. There seems to be good early chemistry between Newton and N’Keal Harry as well and that’s a welcome development.
Then there’s Brian Hoyer. It’s easily forgotten that Hoyer was really good in camp last year and was outstanding in the Patriots' first preseason game. His mobility and arm strength are not an issue.
On Tuesday, for the second straight day, he had a long completion to Devin Ross. He spreads it around liberally and, when things start to break down a bit, he’s so experienced in this offense that he knows what’s going to open up and where while, at this point, Stidham and Newton are a little slower to react.
After two physical practices, we’ll see if the Patriots come back with another fully padded workout on Wednesday. At some point, the Patriots will need to start giving an outsized number of reps to the quarterback they feel is going to start the opener against the Dolphins because camp is soon going to come to "The End of the Road." Also a No. 1 song in the summer of ’92 for Backstreet Boys.